Singaporeans can play a role in retaining Pulau Ubin's charm, says PM Lee

Students leaving the sensory trails ponds in Pulau Ubin on Ubin Day. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Students leaving the sensory trails ponds in Pulau Ubin on Ubin Day. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Cyclists touring Pulau Ubin on Ubin Day. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Cyclists touring Pulau Ubin on Ubin Day. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman (right), Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Defence, checking out wild birds at Ketam Quarry in Pulau Ubin. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman (right), Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Defence, checking out wild birds at Ketam Quarry in Pulau Ubin. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
PM Lee and Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Defence, planting a seashore nutmeg in Pulau Ubin. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
PM Lee and Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Defence, planting a seashore nutmeg in Pulau Ubin. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
PM Lee taking a 4km bike ride in Pulau Ubin on Ubin Day. PM Lee is the guest of honour at this year's Ubin Day, the first in over a decade. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
PM Lee taking a 4km bike ride in Pulau Ubin on Ubin Day. PM Lee is the guest of honour at this year's Ubin Day, the first in over a decade. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
PM Lee holds an oriental whip snake near Pekan Quarry at Pulau Ubin. PM Lee is the guest of honour at this year's Ubin Day, the first in over a decade.  -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
PM Lee holds an oriental whip snake near Pekan Quarry at Pulau Ubin. PM Lee is the guest of honour at this year's Ubin Day, the first in over a decade.  -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - The Government, working with the community, will roll out a series of initiatives to retain Pulau Ubin's charm as a rustic haven over the coming months.

These include studies that tackle the erosion of its shoreline, which has receded by as much as 40m in areas in northern Ubin, to planting trees and supporting the recovery of endangered bird species.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who is overseeing the effort, said these are just the first wave of ideas thrown up by the Ubin Project that are being put into action.

Since the project was announced in March, members of the public have chipped in more than 2,000 ideas to sustain Pulau Ubin's special character.

A Friends of Ubin Network (Fun) was also formed to facilitate discussions between concerned citizens and the authorities.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong held up these efforts as an example of how Singaporeans can do their part for the environment and Ubin, when he visited the island for Ubin Day, where volunteers organised tours and talks for the public.

"With Fun, we can do much more," PM Lee said in a short speech.

These include preserving nature and biodiversity, documenting Ubin's heritage and culture, pursuing outdoor activities, and making Ubin a field lab for students as well as a "cradle for sustainable living", he said.

"I'm glad that through this we have involved many Singaporeans interested in Ubin to come up with ideas and to pool the ideas so we can do something about it," he added.

PM Lee recalled how he made trips to the island for seafood and cycling and spent 17 days on the island as a teenager on an Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) programme. His last trip to the island in 2007 was also to visit the new OBS centre.

"I've accumulated many good memories of Ubin - like many Singaporeans. And I hope our children, too, will also have the chance to do the same as they grow up," he said.

PM Lee also paid tribute to the volunteers and students who took an active interest in preserving, recording and enhancing Pulau Ubin so that it "continues to be part of our shared heritage and shared memories".

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New and surprising things continue to be discovered on Ubin, he noted, singling out its rich biodiversity including the Chek Jawa wetlands, hornbills and endangered mangrove trees like the Eye of the Crocodile.

This tree species will be a target of recovery efforts, and 11 of 200 such remaining trees in the world can be found in Singapore, two of them on Ubin.

"Collectively, we have developed a vision of Ubin that will honour our past, treasure our present, and shape our future," he said.

Ubin, he added, was a prime example of how "every Singaporean has an important role to make this a liveable and sustainable city", urging people to continue giving their ideas and taking part in activities on the island.

"Look around and ask yourself: "What can I do to make our environment better, to make Ubin a more interesting place," he said.

"Imagine it, commit yourself to it, and we will partner you to make it happen."

asyiqins@sph.com.sg